Want to go out on a limb for your next vacation—literally? Once the sole province of young boys and Ewoks, tree houses offer adventurous travelers (read: unafraid of heights) a unique travel experience in an age of roadside motel chains and globe-stretching hotel corporations.
Building a hotel in the treetops is hardly a new idea: Brazil’s Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel has been inviting guests to explore the jungle canopy from its rooms since the mid-1980’s. But the concept has blossomed; today you’ll find them everywhere from Massachusetts to China.
Better yet, this new breed is more than just planks of wood nailed to an old oak. The Costa Rica Tree House Lodge, in Limón, for example, has a full kitchen and luxurious bathroom built around a gnarled 100-year-old Sangrillo tree. Head to South Africa’s Tsala Treetop Lodge, in Plettenberg Bay, and you’ll find infinity pools and fireplaces.
“A lot of people had good experiences with tree houses when they were growing up,” explains Michael Garnier, a builder who has constructed tree-based dwellings around the globe and also operates the Out’n’About Treehouse Treesort, a sprawling 36-acre wonderland in Oregon. “It draws an adventurous type of person,” he says. “The kid comes out in them.”
Sometimes, it’s the solitude and seclusion afforded by sleeping in nature that attracts people to high-flying hotels. Take northern Sweden’s eerily beautiful Treehotel, whose mirrored cubic exterior reflects the forest on all sides.
It’s the vibrant cacophony of the rainforest, by contrast, that’s on display at Tranquil Resort, a working coffee and vanilla plantation in southern India. Chances are high that guests might find themselves in a not-so-tranquil situation: nose-to-nose with howler monkeys, who reportedly dance on the roof at night and have even startled guests by bursting into bathrooms. “I’ve found nowhere else like it in the world,” says former (unshaken) guest Haley Spurway.
Modern tree houses present a rare opportunity to drive past the McResort and break free of travel’s predicable stops and well-traveled routes. Up in the leaves, you’ll find something unique and exceptional—surely the reward of any good journey.